Strengthening human autonomy in the era of autonomous technology

NordiCHI 2020 workshop


The aim of this workshop is to address the role that human autonomy presently receives in HCI research and how “autonomous technologies” might challenge, rather than facilitate human autonomy. We acknowledge a need for new ways of understanding HCI and interaction design as digital technologies develop in the “4th wave”. In this workshop, participants are invited to a discussion where the autonomous human-being—who can act autonomously with autonomous technologies—is emphasized, beyond simple human control to a more flexible, sophisticated, subtle, and sustainable autonomy.

With human autonomy as our primary perspective, we invite participants in this workshop to discuss how recent technological developments change the core of HCI, and how we want to envision this field as it moves forward: how to design, evaluate and implement interactive systems that enable people to govern their own lives.

By emphasizing the importance of human autonomy in a technology driven society, the challenges we as a community face will become clearer, and thus possible to address and tackle. Presently, the challenge of preserving human autonomy during the next socio-technical shift has not been addressed in the NordiCHI community. Further, such perspectives are much needed if HCI should renew itself and its theoretical basis, while simultaneously maintaining our Scandinavian tradition and Nordic values.

More about the background is found here.


Themes for the workshop

With our main interest being ‘autonomous technologies’ and how they might make the interaction imperceptible, challenging rather than facilitating human autonomy: we wish to envision the role of human autonomy and the right of the individual to govern their own lives in the "4th shift". We wish to explore interaction goals, relevant theories, methods, relations between the human and the computer, and relevant values and questions for these technologies, potentially defining a shift in HCI.

We are particularly interested in discussing the following themes but are also open for other takes on our main questions:

Imperceptible interactions: Interactions that we cannot directly perceive (see, touch, feel) or understand (the mechanisms behind the technology is hidden) such as; smart environments and homes, ML algorithms and predictive technologies, robot “decisions”. How do people (users and designers) relate to and understand autonomous technology when they cannot sense or make sense of its operations? How can we design for human autonomy when the human does not know s/he interacts or what the autonomous technology does? How can humans relate to autonomous and/or imperceptible ‘things’? More detail here

Interaction with autonomous things: Interaction with robots, (chat)bots, or smart vehicles. We have seen that with the introduction of a robot in a domestic setting, humans need to carry out facilitation or articulation work. How do we describe how we relate to technology that perform tasks for us and with us? How do people handle having autonomous or automatic things as “colleagues” or “partners” in work where work tasks are distributed or shared by humans and technology? What is a good mix or fit between machine and human decision-making? More detail here

Perspectives on “imperceptible interactions with autonomous things.”: We welcome philosophical and theoretical perspectives on human autonomy in today’s society and how technology can strengthen human autonomy. How do we describe and critically evaluate the different ways that technology represent, protect and support or weaken human autonomy? Within this theme we include questions about how we can design these interactions, i.e., how to design for capabilities / abilities, for perception and meaning-making, and for interaction with moving things like robots? More detail here

The workshop is organized as a discussion based on prepared position papers by the participants (see schedule). 

The outcome of the workshop for the NordiCHI community is ideas related to interaction with autonomous or imperceptible things positioned in a Nordic context, contributing to defining and influencing a "4th HCI shift". The workshop organizers suggest to write a common paper based on the discussions in the workshop. 



Tone Bratteteig, Diana Saplacan, Rebekka Soma, Johanne Svanes Oskarsen and (more about the organizers)
Tags: Human autonomy, Interaction, autonomous things, perspectives
Published June 13, 2020 5:36 PM - Last modified Sep. 22, 2020 4:04 PM